KZN men sentenced to 15 years in jail for stealing crude oil belonging to Transnet

Two men have this week been convicted in the Newcastle Regional Court on theft of crude oil and damage to essential infrastructure.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) confirmed the sentencing of Boitumelo Mathabatha and MacDonald Ndlovu to an effective 15 years behind bars.

NPA spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson-Kara said the crude oil had an estimated value of R400,000 and the damage to infrastructure was approximately R11 million.

Explaining the case, Ramkisson-Kara said on July 20, 2021, police were notified of an abandoned truck found in a field in Newcastle.

“The truck was empty but the keys were in the ignition and there were two trailers attached to the truck.

“There was a fuel pipe attached to the truck and a fresh hole in the ground next to the truck.

“It was discovered that the tankers were filled with crude oil that the accused had accessed by digging into an extensive underground pipeline belonging to Transnet.”

Investigations revealed that the duo had hired the truck and the driver to carry out their plans.

“Once the hired driver realised that they were stealing, he notified his employer (the truck owner) and Mathabatha and Ndlovu were arrested.”

The NPA said cellphone evidence proved vital for the State in this matter, as it linked the accused directly to the crime.

During aggravation of sentence, a manager from Bidvest, who assisted Transnet with security, told the court in his testimony that it costs several millions of rand to repair damaged essential infrastructure.

“He added that it takes the soil about 20 years to recover from crude oil spillages,” said Ramkisson-Kara.

Mathabatha and Ndlovu were sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for theft and 15 years imprisonment for tampering and/or damaging essential infrastructure.

“Since the sentences will run concurrently, they will serve an effective sentence of 15 years imprisonment.”

In addition to the sentence, the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the NPA in KZN was granted a preservation order for an amount of approximately R49,000 in cash and a Toyota Fortuner.

The Director Of Public Prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal, advocate Elaine Harrison said: “The damaging and theft of fuel from the fuel pipeline causes major financial losses to the economy. Every successful prosecution is indicative of law enforcement agencies addressing the issue. We will continue to vigorously address this crime to ensure that more cases are investigated and successfully prosecuted.”

-IOL News

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